LAFAYETTE — Nearly 50 percent of the 4-year-olds who applied received seats in foreign immersion and arts and technology focused preschool classes.
At least 110 students are on waiting lists for a spot in the Schools of Choice program’s specialized preschool classes after a computerized lottery held Monday filled the 100 available spots.
Parents who didn’t attend Monday’s lottery will receive notification letters later this week, said Angela Simoneaux, Lafayette Parish school system marketing and student recruitment coordinator.
Districtwide, preschool classes are offered at eight Lafayette Parish schools to more than 800 students.
Applications are required for the regular preschool classes, as well.
However, priority is given to students who qualify for the LA 4 program — the state’s publicly funded preschool program that targets low-income students.
Last year, of the 826 4-year-olds enrolled, 760 qualified as low-income students.
Parents have already been notified if their child was selected for a spot at the regular preschool sites, and waiting list notices for those sites will be sent out this week, said Christine Duay, Early Childhood program supervisor.
Because interest typically exceeds availability, a computerized lottery system selected students for the Schools of Choice classes.
At least 58 students applied for the 20 spots available at Prairie Elementary in French immersion, 22 applied for the 20 spots available in Spanish immersion at Alice Boucher Elementary and 130 applied for the 60 spots available at J. Wallace James Elementary in the three arts and technology focused classes that will be offered.
The limited number of spots was discouraging for parents like Kellie Boudreaux and Moussa Sadou.
Boudreaux’s daughter, Kynley, is one of 70 on the waiting list for J. Wallace James Elementary. She said she had hoped her daughter would have an extra year of public school to better prepare for kindergarten.
“It’s frustrating because we’re willing to pay,” she said. “Either I pay there or I pay for day care.”
Parents who don’t meet the income eligibility requirements for the public preschool program are charged tuition, which was increased by $45 this year to $375 a month.
Sadou’s daughter is number 12 in line for a spot in the French immersion program at Prairie. However, she does have a spot at Truman Montessori, the district’s wall-to-wall preschool.
Sadou, a French immersion teacher at Evangeline Elementary, said while he feels fortunate that she got into preschool, his preference was French immersion. He said he wasn’t hopeful that she would advance on the waiting list.
“I don’t think enough people will drop,” he said. “People like the program.”
And once you get a spot in the select track of Schools of Choice study, you’re guaranteed a spot as you advance from grade level to grade level.
After Monday’s lottery, Amy Muffoletto now has a third child at J. Wallace James.
“I have a second-grader and fourth-grader there already,” she said.
Her daughter — now a junior at Lafayette High’s Performing Arts Academy — started in the Schools of Choice track at J. Wallace James Elementary.
“It gives them great opportunities,” Muffoletto said of the Schools of Choice programs.
Retired teacher Edith Carmouche shared her giddiness after her grandson Treylon was selected for a spot at J. Wallace James.
“I’m excited. This is the last of the crop,” she said of her youngest grandson. “There’s so much for him to learn. There’s so much for him to explore.”
The Pre-K Schools of Choice lottery is typically held earlier — but funding issues stalled registration and student placements.
Last month, the School Board sidelined a tax proposal that would have funded universal access to preschool. Board members cited the timing of the preschool tax — which could have been on the same ballot as a bond and tax proposal to fund the facilities’ master plan.